Utah’s Spencer Cox ups his bipartisan ties, joins Biden’s Council of Governors

The bipartisan group will advise the president on issues of homeland security.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Gov. Spencer Cox answers questions during a news conference Thursday, July 1, 2021. President Joe Biden has named the Utah Republican to a bipartisan Council of Governors.

The White House named Gov. Spencer Cox on Thursday to a bipartisan advisory group known as the Council of Governors.

The Utah Republican is one of 10 state leaders on the group that will advise President Joe Biden on a range of issues from extreme weather to international terrorism.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, and Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, a Democrat, will chair the council. Beyond Cox, the other governors hail from Tennessee, Delaware, Louisiana, Michigan, Oregon, Vermont and Wyoming.

In unveiling the group Thursday, the White House said the council will also involve the secretaries of Defense and Homeland Security, along with other federal leaders from the military and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The White House announcement said the goal is to “strengthen partnerships between the federal government and state governments to better protect our nation from threats to our homeland security and all types of hazards.”

The council was created by executive order in 2010. Cox is the first Utah governor to participate.

In a news release, Cox said his inclusion will help raise Utah’s profile on a national level.

“We’re grateful for this appointment that gives Utah a seat at the table,” he said, “particularly with respect to disaster preparedness as well as best use of the National Guard.”

Cox already has had some interactions with the Biden administration.

He has participated in weekly meetings with the White House on the pandemic response, and he’s joined small groups of governors to discuss other issues with Biden as well.

Most recently, Cox and other Western governors met with the president to talk about the federal response to wildfires. Biden promised to boost the pay of federal firefighters and to provide more air support during the June 30 videoconference.

And back in May, Cox was one of six governors who met with the Democratic president for a bipartisan talk about the vaccine rollout at a time when interest had started to decline. In that conversation, Cox told Biden that people trust their doctors and community leaders to provide information on the vaccine more than the government.

Tribune reporter Bryan Schott contributed to this story.